, Volume 36, Issue 3, pp 287–297 | Cite as

Parental marital disruption and intergenerational transfers: An analysis of lone elderly parents and their children

  • Liliana E. PezzinEmail author
  • Barbara Steinberg Schone
Income Within and Across Families


Although one of the most marked demographic trends observed over the twentieth century is the increased rate of divorce, relatively little research has explored the effects of these changing marital patterns in the context of an aging society. Using a sample of lone elderly parents and their adult children, we analyze the direct and indirect effects of marital disruption on four important dimensions of intergenerational transfers: coresidence, financial assistance, adult children’s provision of informal care, and parental purchase of paid care. Our findings suggest that divorce has deleterious effects on intergenerational transfers, particularly for elderly fathers. Remarriage further reduces exchange. Our results reveal that parents engage in lower levels of transfers with stepchildren relative to biological children. Moreover, intergenerational transfers are sensitive to characteristics of biological children but not to those of stepchildren. Taken together, these results suggest that exchange at the end of the life course continues to be adversely affected by marital disruption


Family Structure Adult Child Informal Care Informal Caregiving Cash Transfer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Altonji, lG., F. Hayashi, and L. Kotlikoff. 1996. “Parental Altruism and Inter-Vivos Transfers: Theory and Evidence.” NBER Working Paper No. 5378, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  2. Aquilino, W.S. 1994. “Impact of Childhood Family Disruption on Young Adult’s Relationships With Parents.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 56:295–313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Becker, G. and N. Tomes. 1979. “An Equilibrium Theory of the Distribution of Income and Intergenerational Mobility.” Journal of Political Economy 87: 1153–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Berhman, J., R.A. Pollak, and P. Taubman. 1982. “Parental Preferences and Provision for Progeny.” Journal of Political Economy 90:52–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bumpass, L.L. and R.R. Rindfuss. 1979. “Children’s Experience of Marital Disruption.” American Journal of Sociology 85:49–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cooney, T.M. and P. Uhlenberg. 1990. “The Role of Divorce on Men’s Relations With Their Adult Children After Midlife.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 52:677–88.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cox, D. 1990. “Intergenerational Transfers and Liquidity Constraints.” Quarterly Journal of Economics 105:187–217.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Duncan, G.J. and S.D. Hoffman. 1985. “A Reconsideration of the Economic Consequences of Marital Dissolution.” Demography 22:485–97.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Duan, N. 1983. “Smearing Estimate: A Nonparametric Retransformation Model.” Journal of the American Statistical Association 78:605–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Duan, N., W.G. Manning, C. Morris, and J. Newhouse. 1983. “A Comparison of Alternative Models for the Demand for Medical Care.” Journal of Business and Economic Statistics 1: 115–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. —. 1984. “Choosing Between the Sample Selection Model and the Multi-Part Model.” Journal of Business and Economic Statistics 2:283–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dwyer, I.W. and R.T. Coward. 1991. “A Multivariate Comparison of the Involvement of Adult Sons Versus Adult Daughters in the Care of Impaired Adults.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 46:S259–69.Google Scholar
  13. Eggebeen, D.J. 1992. “Family Structure and Intergenerational Exchanges.” Research on Aging 14:427–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freedman, V.A. 1996. “Family Structure and the Risk of Nursing Home Admission.” Journal of Gerontology: Social Sciences 51B:S61–69.Google Scholar
  15. Furstenberg, F.F. and A.I. Cherlin. 1991. Divided Families: What Happens to Children When Parents Part. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Furstenberg, F.F., S.D. Hoffman, and L. Shrestha. 1995. “The Effect of Divorce on Intergenerational Transfers: New Evidence.” Demography 32:319–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Furstenberg, F.F., C.W. Nord, J.L. Peterson, and N. Zill. 1983. “The Life Course of Children of Divorce: Marital Disruption and Parental Conflict.” American Sociological Review 48:656–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heckman, I.J. 1979. “Sample Selection as an Specification Error.” Econometrica 47: 153–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Johnson, C.L. 1989. “Divorce-Related Changes in Relationships.” Pp. 33–44 in Aging Parents and Adult Children, edited by J.A. Mancini. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  20. Kotlikoff, L.J. 1992. “Economic Exchange and Support Within U.S. Families.” NBER Working Paper No. 4080, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  21. Lye, D.N., D.H. Klepinger, P.O. Hyle, and A. Nelson. 1995. “Childhood Living Arrangements and Adult Children’s Relations With Their Parents.” Demography 32:261–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Manning, W.G., N. Duan, and W.H. Rogers. 1987. “Monte Carlo Evidence on the Choice of Sample Selection and Two-Part Models.” Journal of Econometrics 35:59–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Martin, T.C. and L.L. Bumpass. 1989. “Recent Trends in Marital Disruption.” Demography 26:37–51.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. McLanahan, S. and G. Sandefur. 1994. Growing up With a Single Parent. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Pezzin, L.E., P. Kemper, and J. Reschovsky. 1996. “Does Publicly Provided Home Care Substitute for Family Care? Experimental Evidence With Endogenous Living Arrangements.” Journal of Human Resources 31:650–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Pezzin, L.E. and B. Schone. Forthcoming. “Intergenerational Household Formation, Female Labor Supply, and Informal Caregiving: A Bargaining Approach.” Journal of Human Resources 34(3).Google Scholar
  27. Rosenzweig, M.R. and K.I. Wolpin. 1993. “Intergenerational Support and the Life Cycle Incomes of Young Men and Their Parents: Human Capital Investments, Coresidence and Intergenerational Financial Transfers.” Journal of Labor Economics 11:84–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Seltzer, I.A. and S.M. Bianchi. 1988. “Children’s Contact With Absent Parents.” Journal of Marriage and the Family 50:663–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Task Force on Aging Research. 1994. Future Directions for Research on Aging. Washington, DC: Department of Health and Human Services.Google Scholar
  30. White, L. 1994. “Stepfamilies Over the Life Course: Social Support.” Paper presented at the National Symposium on Step families, Pennsylvania State University, PA.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Population Association of America 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hopkins Center on the Demography of AgingJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimore
  2. 2.Agency for Health Care Policy and ResearchUSA

Personalised recommendations